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Goodbye, Gregg Allman

(December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017)

Founding member of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame group, the Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman passed away today from liver cancer.

R.I.P. Bob Burns

(November 24, 1950 – April 3, 2015)

The drummer on Lynyrd Skynyrd’s first two studio albums, (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd) and Second Helping, Bob Burns was killed yesterday in a traffic collision in Georgia.

JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Lynyrd Skynyrd edition

ultimate skynyrd

No band epitomizes southern rock like Lynyrd Skynyrd. Putting together an “Ultimate Mixtape” for these rebels wasn’t easy, but revisiting each album and listening to the songs anew was a rewarding experience. They have evolved over the years without betraying their roots, and while the band’s recent releases are not as timeless as the material recorded in the seventies, it is still worth the listen.

A reminder of how the “Ultimate Mixtape” works:

  • Every studio album must be represented by one and only one song.
  • That song does not have to be an official “single” released by the band to promote said album.
  • Compilation albums can be included, but only songs that are new, previously unreleased, or remixes of songs from prior albums are eligible for the list.
  • Live albums are a waste of time. There are exceptions to this rule, especially in the case of Skynyrd. In some cases, the live recordings are even better than the studio efforts.

Let’s get on with JT’s Ultimate Mixtape: Lynyrd Skynyrd edition…

“Free Bird” (pronounced ‘lĕh-‘nérd ‘skin-‘nérd, 1973)
“Sweet Home Alabama” (Second Helping, 1974)
“Saturday Night Special” (Nuthin’ Fancy, 1975)
“Gimme Back My Bullets” (Gimme Back My Bullets, 1976)
“Call Me The Breeze” live (One More From the Road, 1976)
“What’s Your Name” (Street Survivors, 1977)
“Down South Jukin’” (Skynyrd’s First And…Last, 1978)
“Simple Man” live (Legend, 1987)
“That Smell” live (Southern By the Grace of God, 1988)
“Double Trouble” outtake version (Skynyrd’s Innyrds: Their Greatest Hits, 1989)
“Smokestack Lightning” (Lynyrd Skynyrd 1991, 1991)
“The Last Rebel” (The Last Rebel, 1993)
“All I Have is a Song” (Endangered Species, 1994)
“Travelin’ Man” (Twenty, 1997)
“Workin’” (Edge of Forever, 1999)
“Santa’s Messin’ with the Kid” (Christmas Time Again, 2000)
“Red White & Blue (Love It Or Leave)” (Vicious Cycle, 2003)
“God & Guns” (God & Guns, 2009)
“Ready To Fly” (Last of a Dyin’ Breed, 2012)

Tackling the “bonus tracks” section for Lynyrd Skynyrd proved more challenging than other bands because there is so little out there outside of the band. Original vocalist Ronnie Van Zant, as far as I can tell, never recorded with anyone else. There were some post-Skynyrd bands for Gary Rossington, Allen Collins, and Artimus Pyle, but not a lot of output from them—and a lot of what is out there is now out of print and very expensive. Johnny Van Zant had a few solo releases as well as some albums with his brother Donnie from .38 Special. Ed King and Rickey Medlocke performed with other bands prior to their involvement with Lynryd Skynyrd, while Billy Powell worked with Kid Rock in the 21st century. All that adds up to only eight bonus tracks.

Bonus tracks:
Strawberry Alarm Clock (with Ed King) “Incense & Peppermints” (Incense & Peppermints, 1967)
Blackfoot (with Rickey Medlocke) “Train, Train” (Strikes, 1979)
Johnny Van Zant “Only the Strong Survive” (No More Dirty Deals, 1980)
Rossington-Collins Band “Don’t Misunderstand Me” (Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere, 1980)
Artimus Pyle Band “Town To Town” (A.P.B., 1981)
Allen Collins Band “Just Trouble” (Here, There & Back, 1983)
Van Zant “I’m a Fighter” (Van Zant, 1985)
Kid Rock (with Billy Powell) “All Summer Long” (Rock n Roll Jesus, 2007)

It’s fun to chase the rabbits and hear what these guys did outside of Skynyrd, but it’s even more fun to hear it all together from “Free Bird” through “All Summer Long.” Get your Amazon account primed to download these songs, or replace a few of your choosing and make your own “Ultimate Mix Tape: Lynyrd Skynyrd edition.”

Photoset: 38 Special (May 12, 2012 @ Nutter Center, Dayton, OH)

Thirty-Eight Special

Saturday night, Hank Williams Jr. brought his rowdy friends to Wright State University’s Nutter Center in Dayton, Ohio. The first band to take the stage was southern rock legends 38 Special. Opening their set with “Rockin’ Into The Night,” 38 Special rocked for fifty solid minutes, roaring through their biggest hits including “Caught Up In You,” “Wild-Eyed Southern Boys,” and “Hold On Loosely.”

It is a shame that many concertgoers do not make an effort to arrive at the venue for the first act. The crowd was sparse during 38 Special’s performance, but the band played as if every seat was filled. Singer Donnie Van Zant pranced around the stage, all smiles during the set. Van Zant is the middle brother of the Van Zants (original Lynyrd Skynyrd vocalist Ronnie being the oldest, and current Skynyrd singer Johnny the youngest). The camaraderie between him and guitarist/vocalist Don Barnes was evident.

Donnie Van Zant

The only drawback to 38 Special’s time on stage was perhaps the lack of time. Due to the short set, the group decided to play a medley of select songs in addition to full renditions of their most popular numbers. While a medley is not necessarily a bad thing, this one seemed forced and did not flow as smoothly as it should have. It may be better to replace this part of the set with two songs in their entirety.

Overall, however, 38 Special did a very good job opening the show. For a band that has been going for nearly forty years, they did not show any signs of slowing down.

More photos from the set after the jump: Read the rest of this entry

Blackberry Smoke – Little Piece of Dixie (2010)

Blackberry Smoke
Little Piece of Dixie
Bama Jam Records, 2010
47 minutes

More country than southern rock, Blackberry Smoke’s Little Piece of Dixie is a fine foot-stomper that kicks off with the mid-tempo “Good One Comin’ On” (written by Lee Roy Parnell, David Lee Murphy, and Gary Nicholson). That song, as well as a few others, would fit right in on commercial country radio playlists. “Up In Smoke” is an upbeat “hillbilly hoedown” that is no doubt a popular live number, while “Who Invented the Wheel” slows it down to lament a relationship gone bad.

Country music is one of the most openly patriotic genres, and Blackberry Smoke is no exception, inviting listeners to “sing along to my freedom song.” Little Piece of Dixie closes with a stellar bonus track featuring George Jones and Jamey Johnson singing with Charlie Starr on Willie Nelson’s “Yesterday’s Wine.” While Blackberry Smoke will not make anyone forget Lynyrd Skynyrd or even Confederate Railroad, the band is a solid additon to the country rock tradition.

Blackberry Smoke signed on with Zac Brown’s Southern Ground Artists label last year, as Bama Jam Records is now defunct. The band has toured with ZZ Top and Lynyrd Skynyrd and is currently on the road with Eric Church. Click here to see their upcoming concert schedule.

1. Good One Comin’ On
2. Like I Am
3. Bottom of This
4. Up In Smoke
5. Sanctified Woman
6. Who Invented the Wheel
7. I’d Be Lyin
8. Prayer for the Little Man
9. Restless
10. Shake Your Magnolia
11. Freedom Song
12. (bonus track) Yesterday’s Wine (w/ George Jones & Jamey Johnson)

The band:
Charlie Starr (vocals, guitar, pedal steel & banjo)
Paul Jackson (guitar, vocals)
Richard Turner (bass, vocals)
Brandon Still (Hammond B-3, piano)
Brit Turner (drums)

Check out the video for “Up In Smoke” below:

Learn more about Blackberry Smoke.

Learn more about Southern Ground Artists (the band’s current label).

Purchase Little Piece Of Dixie at the Blackberry Smoke store (it’s a lot cheaper than Amazon).

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